Broadcom to use Wi-Fi positioning tech in chips

Chipmaker strikes a deal with Skyhook Wireless to use its Wi-Fi positioning technology in its chips for mobile devices.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon

Chipmaker Broadcom is adding Wi-Fi positioning technology from Skyhook Wireless to its semiconductors to help provide more accurate location-based services.

Broadcom plans to use GPS (Global Positioning System) and Wi-Fi to help provide accurate location-based information for mobile devices, the company said. Location-based services are becoming hot, especially since the launch of Apple's iPhone 3G, which comes with GPS. The location applications that use GPS have been among the most popular applications downloaded from the Apple App Store.

But GPS has its limitations. Skyhook's Wi-Fi location technology can use known Wi-Fi hot spots to augment GPS. The service works very well in densely populated areas where there are a lot of Wi-Fi radios transmitting signals. And it's great for locating places indoors or in cities with a lot of tall buildings, all places where satellite-based GPS technology has difficulty getting a location fix.

Now Broadcom, which makes many of the GPS, Wi-Fi, and other types of chips that go into many mobile phones will add Skyhook's Wi-Fi positioning to its chips. And this should help improve accuracy for location-based services in the future.